July 01, 2007

A Monumental Anniversary

Two hundred years ago this summer, Russia and the U.S. first established diplomatic relations. It is a highly significant anniversary: two of the world’s largest and most influential countries opening up diplomatic channels (the first U.S. ambassador to Russia – John Quincy Adams – later went on to become the sixth U.S. president), but it will likely get little fanfare in U.S. media this summer, except perhaps as a news peg on which to hang discussion of the latest chill in the two countries’ bilateral relations. 

For our part, we are kicking off our celebration of this anniversary by dedicating this entire issue of Russian Life to the Russian-American relationship. But we are doing it in our own, quirky way. Not through an encyclopedic recounting of the two centuries of U.S.-Russian relations, but by telling some interesting stories which separately, and as a whole, offer a glimpse into the complex history which entwines Russia and America.

It so happens that this issue also coincides with a few rather salient “round” anniversaries of Russian-Americana. The first concerns our cover story on Sitka, Alaska. It was on October 18, 1867 – 140 years ago this fall – that the official Alaskan handover ceremony took place, Russia having sold the territory to America for $7.2 million. Russia had been in the Americas for over 120 years, and Sitka (then Novo-Arkhangelsk) had been the capital of Russia’s colony. For our story, we asked some local residents to take us on a tour of their town, reflecting on the Russian influences still present today. Their story is on page 28.

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Russian Life is a publication of a 30-year-young, award-winning publishing house that creates a bimonthly magazine, books, maps, and other products for Russophiles the world over.

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